Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket “The Kingdom brings redemption.”_ The Kingdom _ Title: The Kingdom

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The Kingdom brings redemption to what has been a mediocre, post summer theater experience. Relatively new director Peter Berg created a movie that is as hot and gritty as the Saudi Desert. This is not another over the top action flick trying to hide the lack of script behind an onslaught of pyrotechnics. The Kingdom is easily one of the best written action thrillers in years. It is a mind stirring plot combining suspense, heart pounding action and relevant story line that drives this film home. It doesn’t tell its tale from an Ivory Tower but smacks you in the face with stylistic realism.

The story revolves around a terrorist attack on an American occupied section of Saudi Arabia. An FBI team goes in to try and investigate the attack only to bump heads with governments on both sides. It is a clash of cultures and a contrast in community that pave a path to discovery. Led by agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx), it is up to his team to break through these barriers and get to the truth. From the moment they touch down on Arab soil it is a race to find the answers while staying alive in a hostile environment.

Foxx is flanked by a cast of actors who each add a special flavor to their characters. The seasoned Chris Cooper shines as always and balances well with Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. Garner is perfect at being the softer character with an inner strength that flows just below the surface. It’s the reason she is perfect in Alias yet can turn around and do an adorable romantic character. She brings both of those elements to this agent role. Foxx, who may never be a Denzel Washington or a Samuel Jackson, still proves to be a gifted talent. He gives 100% every time. I saw reflections of a young Danny Glover at times in this performance.

I loved the feel and look of this movie too. It is a volatile story and the imagery and design have to match. The cinematography and direction moved this film along and allowed each scene to breathe. Berg has a fantastic eye for film making and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. Again I go back to the writing of Matthew Michael Carnahan. This is his first endeavor and he set the bar high for future projects. He pulls you into conflicting cultures and lets you see a brief glimpse into how we are so different yet unnervingly alike.

The Kingdom is Rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language. As I mentioned it is a film about terrorism and the imagery is gripping and emotional. You feel the impact of each blast with visual awareness. I very seldom throw around perfect ratings. It has to be a film that does more than look or work great; it has to leave its mark on you long after you leave the theater. The Kingdom does just that. I give it 5 out of 5 speeding Escalades. If you see one film this post summer, it has to be this one. Just know before you go.

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(09/26/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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